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Yet another “whistleblower” means yet more censorship

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | September 13, 2022

A new Twitter “whistleblower” has come forward. Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, allegedly a former hacker and Twitter’s ex-head of security, testified in front of congress today, with dire warnings about the business practices of the social media giant.

Did he talk about the company’s egregious attacks on their users’ free speech under the guise of “protecting” the public?

Did he mention the suppression of alternative and independent journalism through practices such as “shadow-banning” and discretely removing followers?

Perhaps he told them about how, like all major social media platforms, it is so cross-pollinated with intelligence assets it may as well be considered just another branch of the Deep State.

No, none of that. His main concern is that Twitter’s security is too lax, and that the platform’s “cyber-security failures” leave it potentially open to “exploitation” that can “cause real harm to real people”.

According to the write-up of his testimony in The Guardian“Zatko said Twitter runs out-of-date and vulnerable software on more than half of its data center servers and that in “multiple episodes” the platform was breached by foreign intelligence agencies.”

Adding, “Zatko has also accused Twitter of doing little to combat problems with spam bots – an allegation that bolsters Elon Musk’s case for backing out of his Twitter acquisition.”

Do you see how this works? It’s gearing up the machinery to label anyone who dissents as either a “spy” or a “bot” (and perhaps reveals something of the purpose behind Elon Musk’s “revelation” about the number of “fake accounts” on twitter).

If this all sounds eerily familiar, don’t worry you’re not experiencing deja vu, you’re just remembering Frances Haugen, the facebook “whistleblower” from last year. She said very similar things in a very similar way.

We’ve seen this dance before, we know the steps. As I wrote only last year:

Like so many other testimonies before congress in the past, the entire event looks fake and probably is. A stage-managed exercise involving some “expert witness” telling a bunch of politicians exactly what they want to hear, so they can go ahead push the legislation they were going to push anyway. It’s all leading up to loud bipartisan calls for “regulation”, and that’s not a good thing.

They wheel out some person – who may or may not be real, and may or may not have an axe to grind – prop them up in a nice suit in front of some po-faced senators and have them reel off a few thousand serious sounding words.

Their pay-off is a few minutes of fame, a ghost-written book deal and being called “brave” by moist-eyed liberal pundits, their hands white-knuckling around their pearls.

While they prattle on at length about the supposed “problem”, the “solution” is already planned and ready to roll out. Such is the crushingly predictable nature of the Hegelian dialectic.

And, just in case any of you hadn’t already figured out what that was, The Guardian is more than clear [emphasis added]:

In his testimony, Zatko said there had not been enough government enforcement when it comes to the operations of big tech, and that the federal trade commission (FTC) is “in over its head” when going up against huge tech firms.

More “government enforcement”.

It’s all so tiresome.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Europe’s leaders continue to prioritise US interests over citizens’ wellbeing 

European protestors demand an end to anti-Russia sanctions to alleviate cost-of-living crisis.

By Ahmed Adel | September 13, 2022

With winter approaching, Europeans are thinking about how their livelihoods will be affected. Rallies, strikes, demonstrations and protests are gaining momentum as the cost-of-living becomes unbearable. Although European media tried to hide this, even paid local propagandists cannot ignore the growing anger amongst Europeans. 

Protests have occurred in Prague, Lisbon, London and many other cities, with people belonging to a wide variety of ideologies, including left and right-wing, and even libertarians and anarchists. Although labelled by the media as Putin’s stooges, name-calling is not having the desired effect, especially as people are united by the fear of winter woes, regardless of political affiliation.

Though attempts are being made to blame the continent’s declining economic situation on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Europeans are no longer accepting this excuse. Europeans are realising that anti-Russian sanctions hit them much harder than the Russians.

Forty percent of Austria’s population does not support anti-Russian sanctions, 51 percent of Italians are against them, and 80 percent of Germans believe that Berlin should not send weapons to Ukraine and instead seek a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine. With these ideas, Europeans are rallying across the continent, with people not being deterred despite being accused of serving Putin.

However, it is the US ruining Europe, something which Moscow itself does not want as it would rather see an independent and prosperous continent. None-the-less, the European elite made an unconditional surrender of their countries and peoples to serve the interests of Washington instead.

It is evident that European protestors are completely devoid of common leadership and clear common goals and strategies. These protests are not an organised mass led by a charismatic leader, but small groups of people, and as already mentioned, from varying political ideologies. 

Their potential success remains questionable though since citizens cannot change their leaders until the next election cycle. Germans, for example, were outraged when Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock openly said that she will defend Ukraine’s interests, even against the will of voters. To make matters worse, she made the statement in English, an obvious signalling to Washington. Despite their outrage, Germans cannot remove Baerbock from her post and replace her with another politician until the next election. 

Baerbock is hardly alone though when it comes to powerful politicians dismissing the opinion of the people, with only very few exceptions existing in Europe. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is one of the few exceptions as he prioritises the welfare of his citizens rather than capitulation to American pressure.

In neighbouring Austria, state leaders are now putting pressure on Vienna and are asking federal authorities to negotiate with Moscow. State leaders have a negative attitude towards sanctions, with Upper Austria Governor Thomas Stelzer saying that “nothing is set in stone”. Austria’s approach to sanctions will have to be changed as “they will cause great damage to our lives”, added Stelzer. 

Much will also depend on the results of the Italian elections. It appears that most Italians support Russia-friendly parties. There is a serious chance that at the end of September they will win the election and a coalition of Russia-friendly politicians will appear in the Italian Parliament. Giorgia Meloni of “Brothers of Italy” supported Putin’s re-election as president in 2018, Matteo Salvini of “League” became famous for being photographed in Moscow’s Red Square wearing a t-shirt with an image of Putin, and Silvio Berlusconi is introducing himself as the man to improve European-Russian ties.

More importantly, Europeans are beginning to understand that Washington is not a protector, but a dangerous and unscrupulous state that is prioritising its own interests, not Europe’s. Russia at war, whilst Europe cripples itself by arming Ukraine and imposing anti-Russia sanctions, is an ideal scenario for Washington. In this way, not only is one of Washington’s main adversaries bogged down in the conflict with Ukraine and NATO, but it deepens Europe’s status as nothing more than a submissive protectorate

With frustrations and worries reaching boiling point, and the harsh winter only some weeks away, European leaders need to quickly reach a compromise with Moscow to help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis or else citizens will face a suffering, at least at an economic level, not experienced since World War II.

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

The Specter of Germany Is Rising

By Diana Johnstone | Consortium News | September 12, 2022

The European Union is girding for a long war against Russia that appears clearly contrary to European economic interests and social stability. A war that is apparently irrational – as many are – has deep emotional roots and claims ideological justification. Such wars are hard to end because they extend outside the range of rationality.

For decades after the Soviet Union entered Berlin and decisively defeated the Third Reich, Soviet leaders worried about the threat of “German revanchism.” Since World War II could be seen as German revenge for being deprived of victory in World War I, couldn’t aggressive German Drang nach Osten be revived, especially if it enjoyed Anglo-American support? There had always been a minority in U.S. and U.K. power circles that would have liked to complete Hitler’s war against the Soviet Union.

It was not the desire to spread communism, but the need for a buffer zone to stand in the way of such dangers that was the primary motivation for the ongoing Soviet political and military clampdown on the tier of countries from Poland to Bulgaria that the Red Army had wrested from Nazi occupation.

This concern waned considerably in the early 1980s as a young German generation took to the streets in peace demonstrations against the stationing of nuclear “Euromissiles” which could increase the risk of nuclear war on German soil. The movement created the image of a new peaceful Germany. I believe that Mikhail Gorbachev took this transformation seriously.

On June 15, 1989, Gorbachev came to Bonn, which was then the modest capital of a deceptively modest West Germany. Apparently delighted with the warm and friendly welcome, Gorbachev stopped to shake hands with people along the way in that peaceful university town that had been the scene of large peace demonstrations.

I was there and experienced his unusually warm, firm handshake and eager smile. I have no doubt that Gorbachev sincerely believed in a “common European home” where East and West Europe could live happily side by side united by some sort of democratic socialism.

Gorbachev died at age 91 two weeks ago, on Aug. 30. His dream of Russia and Germany living happily in their “common European home” had soon been fatally undermined by the Clinton administration’s go-ahead to eastward expansion of NATO. But the day before Gorbachev’s death, leading German politicians in Prague wiped out any hope of such a happy end by proclaiming their leadership of a Europe dedicated to combating the Russian enemy.

These were politicians from the very parties – the SPD (Social Democratic Party) and the Greens – that took the lead in the 1980s peace movement.

German Europe Must Expand Eastward

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is a colorless SPD politician, but his Aug. 29 speech in Prague was inflammatory in its implications. Scholz called for an expanded, militarized European Union under German leadership. He claimed that the Russian operation in Ukraine raised the question of “where the dividing line will be in the future between this free Europe and a neo-imperial autocracy.” We cannot simply watch, he said, “as free countries are wiped off the map and disappear behind walls or iron curtains.”

(Note: the conflict in Ukraine is clearly the unfinished business of the collapse of the Soviet Union, aggravated by malicious outside provocation. As in the Cold War, Moscow’s defensive reactions are interpreted as harbingers of Russian invasion of Europe, and thus a pretext for arms buildups.)

To meet this imaginary threat, Germany will lead an expanded, militarized EU. First, Scholz told his European audience in the Czech capital, “I am committed to the enlargement of the European Union to include the states of the Western Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova and, in the long term, Georgia”. Worrying about Russia moving the dividing line West is a bit odd while planning to incorporate three former Soviet States, one of which (Georgia) is geographically and culturally very remote from Europe but on Russia’s doorstep.

2022 Fall Fund Drive

In the “Western Balkans”, Albania and four extremely weak statelets left from former Yugoslavia (North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and widely unrecognized Kosovo) mainly produce emigrants and are far from EU economic and social standards. Kosovo and Bosnia are militarily occupied de facto NATO protectorates. Serbia, more solid than the others, shows no signs of renouncing its beneficial relations with Russia and China, and popular enthusiasm for “Europe” among Serbs has faded.

Adding these member states will achieve “a stronger, more sovereign, geopolitical European Union,” said Scholz. A “more geopolitical Germany” is more like it. As the EU grows eastward, Germany is “in the center” and will do everything to bring them all together. So, in addition to enlargement, Scholz calls for “a gradual shift to majority decisions in common foreign policy” to replace the unanimity required today.

What this means should be obvious to the French. Historically, the French have defended the consensus rule so as not to be dragged into a foreign policy they don’t want. French leaders have exalted the mythical “Franco-German couple” as guarantor of European harmony, mainly to keep German ambitions under control.

But Scholz says he doesn’t want “an EU of exclusive states or directorates,” which implies the final divorce of that “couple.” With an EU of 30 or 36 states, he notes, “fast and pragmatic action is needed.” And he can be sure that German influence on most of these poor, indebted and often corrupt new Member States will produce the needed majority.

France has always hoped for an EU security force separate from NATO in which the French military would play a leading role. But Germany has other ideas. “NATO remains the guarantor of our security,” said Scholz, rejoicing that President Biden is “a convinced trans-atlanticist.”

Every improvement, every unification of European defense structures within the EU framework strengthens NATO,” Scholz said. “Together with other EU partners, Germany will therefore ensure that the EU’s planned rapid reaction force is operational in 2025 and will then also provide its core.

This requires a clear command structure. Germany will face up to this responsibility “when we lead the rapid reaction force in 2025,” Scholz said. It has already been decided that Germany will support Lithuania with a rapidly deployable brigade and NATO with further forces in a high state of readiness.

Serving to Lead … Where?

In short, Germany’s military buildup will give substance to Robert Habeck’s notorious statement in Washington last March that: “The stronger Germany serves, the greater its role.” The Green’s Habeck is Germany’s economics minister and the second most powerful figure in Germany’s current government.

The remark was well understood in Washington: by serving the U.S.-led Western empire, Germany is strengthening its role as European leader. Just as the U.S. arms, trains and occupies Germany, Germany will provide the same services for smaller EU states, notably to its east.

Since the start of the Russian operation in Ukraine, German politician Ursula von der Leyen has used her position as head of the EU Commission to impose ever more drastic sanctions on Russia, leading to the threat of a serious European energy crisis this winter. Her hostility to Russia seems boundless. In Kiev last April she called for rapid EU membership for Ukraine, notoriously the most corrupt country in Europe and far from meeting EU standards. She proclaimed that “Russia will descend into economic, financial and technological decay, while Ukraine is marching towards a European future.” For von der Leyen, Ukraine is “fighting our war.” All of this goes far beyond her authority to speak for the EU’s 27 Members, but nobody stops her.

Germany’s Green Party foreign minister Annalena Baerbock is every bit as intent on “ruining Russia.” Proponent of a “feminist foreign policy”, Baerbock expresses policy in personal terms. “If I give the promise to people in Ukraine, we stand with you as long as you need us,” she told the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED)-sponsored Forum 2000 in Prague on Aug. 31, speaking in English. “Then I want to deliver no matter what my German voters think, but I want to deliver to the people of Ukraine.”

People will go on the street and say, we cannot pay our energy prices, and I will say, ‘Yes I know so we will help you with social measures. […] We will stand with Ukraine and this means the sanctions will stay also til winter time even if it gets really tough for politicians.’”

Certainly, support for Ukraine is strong in Germany, but perhaps because of the looming energy shortage, a recent Forsa poll indicates that some 77 percent of Germans would favor diplomatic efforts to end the war – which should be the business of the foreign minister. But Baerbock shows no interest in diplomacy, only in “strategic failure” for Russia – however long it takes.

In the 1980s peace movement, a generation of Germans was distancing itself from that of their parents and vowed to overcome “enemy images” inherited from past wars. Curiously, Baerbock, born in 1980, has referred to her grandfather who fought in the Wehrmacht as somehow having contributed to European unity. Is this the generational pendulum?

The Little Revanchists

There is reason to surmise that current German Russophobia draws much of its legitimization from the Russophobia of former Nazi allies in smaller European countries.

While German anti-Russian revanchism may have taken a couple of generations to assert itself, there were a number of smaller, more obscure revanchisms that flourished at the end of the European war that were incorporated into United States Cold War operations. Those little revanchisms were not subjected to the denazification gestures or Holocaust guilt imposed on Germany. Rather, they were welcomed by the C.I.A., Radio Free Europe and Congressional committees for their fervent anticommunism. They were strengthened politically in the United States by anticommunist diasporas from Eastern Europe.

Of these, the Ukrainian diaspora was surely the largest, the most intensely political and the most influential, in both Canada and the American Middle West. Ukrainian fascists who had previously collaborated with Nazi invaders were the most numerous and active, leading the Bloc of Anti-Bolshevik Nations with links to German, British and U.S. Intelligence.

Eastern European Galicia, not to be confused with Spanish Galicia, has been back and forth part of Russia and Poland for centuries. After World War II it was divided between Poland and Ukraine. Ukrainian Galicia is the center of a virulent brand of Ukrainian nationalism, whose principal World War II hero was Stepan Bandera. This nationalism can properly be called “fascist” not simply because of superficial signs – its symbols, salutes or tatoos – but because it has always been fundamentally racist and violent.

Incited by Western powers, Poland, Lithuania and the Habsburg Empire, the key to Ukrainian nationalism was that it was Western, and thus superior. Since Ukrainians and Russians stem from the same population, pro-Western Ukrainian ultra-nationalism was built on imaginary myths of racial differences: Ukrainians were the true Western whatever-it-was, whereas Russians were mixed with “Mongols” and thus an inferior race. Banderist Ukrainian nationalists have openly called for elimination of Russians as such, as inferior beings.

So long as the Soviet Union existed, Ukrainian racial hatred of Russians had anticommunism as its cover, and Western intelligence agencies could support them on the “pure” ideological grounds of the fight against Bolshevism and Communism. But now that Russia is no longer ruled by communists, the mask has fallen, and the racist nature of Ukrainian ultra-nationalism is visible – for all who want to see it.

However, Western leaders and media are determined not to notice.

Ukraine is not just like any Western country. It is deeply and dramatically divided between Donbass in the East, Russian territories given to Ukraine by the Soviet Union, and the anti-Russian West, where Galicia is located. Russia’s defense of Donbass, wise or unwise, by no means indicates a Russian intention to invade other countries. This false alarm is the pretext for the remilitarization of Germany in alliance with the Anglo-Saxon powers against Russia.

The Yugoslav Prelude

This process began in the 1990s, with the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia was not a member of the Soviet bloc. Precisely for that reason, the country got loans from the West which in the 1970s led to a debt crisis in which the leaders of each of the six federated republics wanted to shove the debt onto others. This favored separatist tendencies in the relatively rich Slovenian and Croatian republics, tendencies enforced by ethnic chauvinism and encouragement from outside powers, especially Germany.

During World War II, German occupation had split the country apart. Serbia, allied to France and Britain in World War I, was subject to a punishing occupation. Idyllic Slovenia was absorbed into the Third Reich, while Germany supported an independent Croatia, ruled by the fascist Ustasha party, which included most of Bosnia, scene of the bloodiest internal fighting. When the war ended, many Croatian Ustasha emigrated to Germany, the United States and Canada, never giving up the hope of reviving secessionist Croatian nationalism.

In Washington in the 1990s, members of Congress got their impressions of Yugoslavia from a single expert: 35-year-old Croatian-American Mira Baratta, assistant to Sen. Bob Dole (Republican presidential candidate in 1996). Baratta’s grandfather had been an important Ustasha officer in Bosnia and her father was active in the Croatian diaspora in California. Baratta won over not only Dole but virtually the whole Congress to the Croatian version of Yugoslav conflicts blaming everything on the Serbs.

In Europe, Germans and Austrians, most notably Otto von Habsburg, heir to the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire and member of the European Parliament from Bavaria, succeeded in portraying Serbs as the villains, thus achieving an effective revenge against their historic World War I enemy, Serbia. In the West, it became usual to identify Serbia as “Russia’s historic ally”, forgetting that in recent history Serbia’s closest allies were Britain and especially France.

In September 1991, a leading German Christian Democratic politician and constitutional lawyer explained why Germany should promote the breakup of Yugoslavia by recognizing the Slovenian and Croat secessionist Yugoslav republics. (Former CDU Minister of Defense Rupert Scholz at the 6th Fürstenfeldbrucker Symposium for the Leadership of the German Military and Business, held September 23 – 24, 1991.)

By ending the division of Germany, Rupert Scholz said, “We have, so to speak, overcome and mastered the most important consequences of the Second World War … but in other areas we are still dealing with the consequences of the First World War” – which, he noted “started in Serbia.”

Yugoslavia, as a consequence of the First World War, is a very artificial construction, never compatible with the idea of self-determination,” Rupert Scholz said. He concluded: “In my opinion, Slovenia and Croatia must be immediately recognized internationally. (…) When this recognition has taken place, the Yugoslavian conflict will no longer be a domestic Yugoslav problem, where no international intervention can be permitted.”

And indeed, recognition was followed by massive Western intervention which continues to this day. By taking sides, Germany, the United States and NATO ultimately produced a disastrous result, a half dozen statelets, with many unsettled issues and heavily dependent on Western powers. Bosnia-Herzegovina is under military occupation as well as the dictates of a “High Representative” who happens to be German. It has lost about half its population to emigration.

Only Serbia shows signs of independence, refusing to join in Western sanctions on Russia, despite heavy pressure. For Washington strategists the breakup of Yugoslavia was an exercise in using ethnic divisions to break up larger entities, the USSR and then Russia.

Humanitarian Bombing

Western politicians and media persuaded the public that the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia was a “humanitarian” war, generously waged to “protect the Kosovars” (after multiple assassinations by armed secessionists provoked Serbian authorities into the inevitable repression used as pretext for the bombing).

But the real point of the Kosovo war was that it transformed NATO from a defensive into an aggressive alliance, ready to wage war anywhere, without U.N. mandate, on whatever pretext it chose.

This lesson was clear to the Russians. After the Kosovo war, NATO could no longer credibly claim that it was a purely “defensive” alliance.

As soon as Serbian President Milosevic, to save his country’s infrastructure from NATO destruction, agreed to allow NATO troops to enter Kosovo, the U.S. unceremoniously grabbed a huge swath territory to build the its first big U.S. military base in the Balkans. NATO troops are still there.

Just as the United States rushed to build that base in Kosovo, it was clear what to expect of the U.S. after it succeeded in 2014 to install a government in Kiev eager to join NATO. This would be the opportunity for the U.S. to take over the Russian naval base in Crimea. Since it was known that the majority of the population in Crimea wanted to return to Russia (as it had from 1783 to 1954), Putin was able to forestall this threat by holding a popular referendum confirming its return.

East European Revanchism Captures the EU

The call by German Chancellor Scholz to enlarge the European Union by up to nine new members recalls the enlargements of 2004 and 2007 that brought in twelve new members, nine of them from the former Soviet bloc, including the three Baltic States once part of the Soviet Union.

That enlargement already shifted the balance eastward and enhanced German influence. In particular, the political elites of Poland and especially the three Baltic States, were heavily under the influence of the United States and Britain, where many had lived in exile during Soviet rule. They brought into EU institutions a new wave of fanatic anticommunism, not always distinguishable from Russophobia.

The European Parliament, obsessed with virtue signaling in regard to human rights, was particularly receptive to the zealous anti-totalitarianism of its new Eastern European members.

Revanchism and the Memory Weapon

As an aspect of anti-communist lustration, or purges, Eastern European States sponsored “Memory Institutes” devoted to denouncing the crimes of communism. Of course, such campaigns were used by far-right politicians to cast suspicion on the left in general. As explained by European scholar Zoltan Dujisin, “anticommunist memory entrepreneurs” at the head of these institutes succeeded in lifting their public information activities from the national, to the European Union level, using Western bans on Holocaust denial to complain, that while Nazi crimes had been condemned and punished at Nuremberg, communist crimes had not.

The tactic of the anti-communist entrepreneurs was to demand that references to the Holocaust be accompanied by denunciations of the Gulag. This campaign had to deal with a delicate contradiction since it tended to challenge the uniqueness of the Holocaust, a dogma essential to gaining financial and political support from West European memory institutes.

In 2008, the EP adopted a resolution establishing August 23 as “European Day of Remembrance for the victims of Stalinism and Nazism” – for the first time adopting what had been a fairly isolated far right equation. A 2009 EP resolution on “European Conscience and Totalitarianism” called for support of national institutes specializing in totalitarian history.

Dujisin explains, “Europe is now haunted by the specter of a new memory. The Holocaust’s singular standing as a negative founding formula of European integration, the culmination of long-standing efforts from prominent Western leaders … is increasingly challenged by a memory of communism, which disputes its uniqueness.”

East European memory institutes together formed the “Platform of European Memory and Conscience,” which between 2012 and 2016 organized a series of exhibits on “Totalitarianism in Europe: Fascism—Nazism—Communism,” traveling to museums, memorials, foundations, city halls, parliaments, cultural centers, and universities in 15 European countries, supposedly to “improve public awareness and education about the gravest crimes committed by the totalitarian dictatorships.”

Under this influence, the European Parliament on Sept. 19, 2019 adopted a resolution “on the importance of European Remembrance for the Future of Europe” that went far beyond equating political crimes by proclaiming a distinctly Polish interpretation of history as European Union policy. It goes so far as to proclaim that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is responsible for World War II – and thus Soviet Russia is as guilty of the war as Nazi Germany.

The resolution,

“Stresses that the Second World War, the most devastating war in Europe’s history, was started as an immediate result of the notorious Nazi-Soviet Treaty on Non-Aggression of 23 August 1939, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocols, whereby two totalitarian regimes that shared the goal of world conquest divided Europe into two zones of influence;

It further:

“Recalls that the Nazi and communist regimes carried out mass murders, genocide and deportations and caused a loss of life and freedom in the 20th century on a scale unseen in human history, and recalls the horrific crime of the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi regime; condemns in the strongest terms the acts of aggression, crimes against humanity and mass human rights violations perpetrated by the Nazi, communist and other totalitarian regimes;”

This of course not only directly contradicts the Russian celebration of the “Great Patriotic War” to defeat the Nazi invasion, it also took issue with the recent efforts of Russian President Vladimir Putin to put the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement in the context of prior refusals of Eastern European states, notably Poland, to ally with Moscow against Hitler.

But the EP resolution:

“Is deeply concerned about the efforts of the current Russian leadership to distort historical facts and whitewash crimes committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime and considers them a dangerous component of the information war waged against democratic Europe that aims to divide Europe, and therefore calls on the Commission to decisively counteract these efforts;”

Thus the importance of Memory for the future, turns out to be an ideological declaration of war against Russia based on interpretations of World War II, especially since the memory entrepreneurs implicitly suggest that the past crimes of communism deserve punishment – like the crimes of Nazism. It is not impossible that this line of thought arouses some tacit satisfaction among certain individuals in Germany.

When Western leaders speak of “economic war against Russia,” or “ruining Russia” by arming and supporting Ukraine, one wonders whether they are consciously preparing World War III, or trying to provide a new ending to World War II. Or will the two merge?

As it shapes up, with NATO openly trying to “overextend” and thus defeat Russia with a war of attrition in Ukraine, it is somewhat as if Britain and the United States, some 80 years later, switched sides and joined German-dominated Europe to wage war against Russia, alongside the heirs to Eastern European anticommunism, some of whom were allied to Nazi Germany.

History may help understand events, but the cult of memory easily becomes the cult of revenge. Revenge is a circle with no end. It uses the past to kill the future. Europe needs clear heads looking to the future, able to understand the present.


Diana Johnstone was press secretary of the Green Group in the European Parliament from 1989 to 1996. In her latest book, Circle in the Darkness: Memoirs of a World Watcher (Clarity Press, 2020), she recounts key episodes in the transformation of the German Green Party from a peace to a war party. Her other books include Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (Pluto/Monthly Review) and in co-authorship with her father, Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning (Clarity Press). She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resuming of Azeri-Armenian conflict would be quite suitable for the political West

Baku is trying to use the current geopolitical situation to fulfill its long-term goals

By Drago Bosnic | September 13, 2022

Over the last 24 hours, fighting broke out in multiple areas along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The conflict has escalated enough for Yerevan to ask its CSTO allies, in particular Russia, to intervene. This has been revealed just hours after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a late-night telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Armenian government has since confirmed it has requested Russian military assistance to repel Azeri aggression and shelling, according to an official statement:

“During the meeting, further steps were discussed to counter the aggressive actions of Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of Armenia that began at midnight. In connection with the aggression against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, it was decided to officially appeal to the Russian Federation in order to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, as well as to the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the UN Security Council.”

Armenia is basing its official request on the Collective Security Treaty Organization military pact it has with Russia and four other former Soviet republics (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan). Within the framework of its military cooperation with Yerevan, Russia previously sent a 2000-strong peacekeeping force to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh (known as Artsakh to the indigenous Armenians) after the late 2020 war which saw much of the contested region taken by Azeri forces.

This escalation comes approximately a month and a half since the late July/early August clashes in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic when Azeri forces attacked the remaining Artsakh defenders. After months of tensions, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of allegedly attacking its military units in the disputed region. Azeri Ministry of Defense claimed that Armenian soldiers supposedly opened fire at Azeri troops in Gadabay, Kalbajar and Khojavend. Initially, no casualties or material losses were reported as a result of the alleged attack, although the Azeri MoD later claimed at least one of their soldiers was killed. Azerbaijan then took what it called “retaliatory measures”. The Armenian side denied the accusations and stated that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is stable. Since 2020, nearly 2000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh to enforce a ceasefire agreement signed after the large-scale Azerbaijani attack on Armenian forces late that year.

However, the latest escalation is the first large-scale incident when Azeri forces attacked Armenia proper. This is just one of many instances in which the Azeri side is claiming it’s “only defending” and is accusing Armenia of attacking its troops. Given the rather difficult position of both Armenia proper and the Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, it would be strategically unwise to even contemplate escalation against Baku, especially when taking into account the clear superiority of Azeri forces in the last several years. In recent times, the oil and gas-rich Azerbaijan has been acquiring large quantities of advanced weapons from various countries, especially Turkey and Israel. At the same time, Armenia, a small landlocked country with scant resources, has been under a virtual blockade by both Turkey and Azerbaijan for over three decades and it cannot match the economic and military power of Azerbaijan alone, to say nothing of the virtually guaranteed support Baku gets from regional powers such as Turkey.

The Azeri side is most likely resuming its offensive in the region since Russia is preoccupied with its counteroffensive against NATO aggression in Europe. Baku is trying to use the current geopolitical situation to fulfill its long-term goals and it may very well be attacking Armenia directly to divert Yerevan’s attention and create an opportunity to capture the entire territory of the already surrounded Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. 

However, this would require Azerbaijan to effectively go against Russia’s interests in the Southern Caucasus region. Moscow has repeatedly warned Azerbaijan against escalating the conflict with Armenia any further. Despite the successful geopolitical game Azeri leadership has been playing for years, balancing between Russia, Turkey and the political West, Moscow is unlikely to allow further attacks. Back in March, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned Baku that the Russian military is capable of conducting large-scale operations in multiple theaters, clearly implying that no unilateral Azeri action will be tolerated.

However, Baku seems to have the quiet backing of the EU. According to Radio Free Europe, the same day when the conflict escalated Azerbaijan announced it will increase natural gas exports to Europe this year by 30%. As Brussels is trying to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, the EU is neither willing nor in a position to condemn an Azeri attack on Armenia. 

What’s more, the conflict would be quite suitable for the political West, particularly the US. First, it could further undermine relations between Russia and Turkey, which could also spill over to other regions, such as Syria. Second, it would require Russia to send additional troops to Armenia and possibly even Nagorno-Karabakh, which would divert Moscow’s attention and resources from its military operation against the NATO-backed Kiev regime. Either way, Russia is faced with a carefully coordinated destabilization on its entire western and southwestern flank and it will require nothing short of masterful strategic planning to tackle these issues without creating even more problems.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Never Let A Good Crisis Go to Waste Relentless Ukraine reporting helps conceal other conflicts

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

It is astonishing how many observers of war in Ukraine who should know better have been inclined to take at face value the assertions of “sources” that clearly originate among the various governments that are involved in the conflict. Those leaders who are engaged in the inexorable march by the US and its allies to turn the Ukraine crisis into World War 3 surely have learned the lesson that managing the narrative of what is taking place is the greatest weapon that the war hawks have in their possession. One recalls how post-9/11 and leading up to the Iraq War the George W. Bush White House and the neocons in the Pentagon lied about nearly everything to convince the public that Saddam Hussein was a terrorist supporting megalomaniac armed with weapons of mass destruction, inevitably describing him as a man in some ways comparable to Adolf Hitler. Nevertheless, many observers of what was occurring were not fooled and there were large scale demonstrations in a number of cities prior to the invasion in March 2003, which, of course, were rarely reported in the mainstream media in order to control the message.

Iraq in some ways was a learning experience for those in government and also for those in the media who did the heavy lifting by propagating the deception to a largely unsuspecting public. What we are seeing now relating to Ukraine and Russia, however, makes the Iraq experience look like child’s play in terms of the sheer audacity of the alleged information that makes it, or does not make it, into the news. I note particularly the recent terrorist car bombing of Russian activist journalist Dalya Dugina by a Ukrainian assassin made the news for roughly forty-eight hours before disappearing, but not before the lie that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was responsible was firmly planted in a number of places in the mainstream media.

Now that Joe Biden is about to designate a two or three star general to head the Ukraine campaign and has pledged billions of dollars more in aid, Ukraine will be all the news all the time. The US involvement will also feature a catchy name. I would suggest Operation Empty Wallets, which is what Americans will soon be experiencing due to government bailouts and other profligate spending, or maybe Operation Give Me a Break. And it will also create a new dimension to the narrative-shaping in that Ukraine reporting’s domination of what comes out of the newsrooms already is effectively killing much of what else might otherwise be appearing on TV or in the newspapers. That selective management of information provides cover for neglecting stories that might prove embarrassing for those in power. It in effect means that there has been plenty of room for the usual players to engage in business as usual with hardly any scrutiny by the public over what is going on outside Ukraine in secondary theaters like the Middle East and Africa.

All of which leads one to examine what the two countries that have unilaterally declared themselves to be rules makers and enforcers have been up to. Those two countries are perhaps not surprisingly the United States and Israel. The US is, in fact, increasing its combat role in Africa featuring airstrikes in Somalia, all of which have taken place since US President Joe Biden approved the redeployment of hundreds of special forces troops to that country in May, reversing a decision by former President Donald Trump to reduce troop levels in AFRICOM. The two latest attacks killed at least twenty Somalis, all of whom were of course described as “terrorists” by the US command. Independent sources state that US forces have bombed Somalia at least 16 times under Biden, killing between 465 and 545 alleged al-Shabaab militants, including no less than 200 individuals in a single drone plus ground forces strike on March 13th.

Describing the paucity of reporting on the issue, Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, a senior adviser at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, observed “If you were unaware that we were bombing Somalia, don’t feel bad, this is a completely under-the-radar news story, one that was curiously absent from the headlines in all of the major newspapers…”

And then there is Syria, where a paucity of information in the media reflects White House policy. The United States, which has possibly as many as a dozen illegal bases in Syria, has a major airbase located in the al-Omar oil field in Syria’s northeastern Deir Ezzor province. Several weeks ago, three US soldiers were reportedly slightly wounded in rocket attacks directed at the base by alleged “Iranian-backed militants.” The US responded to the claimed attacks by launching strikes from Apache helicopters against three vehicles belonging to an Afghan Shia militia, killing between six and ten “militants,” and there are reports that more tit-for-tat exchanges of fire are likely. CENTCOM afterwards claimed that President Joe Biden personally ordered the strikes in “self-defense” and justified them by citing Article II of the US Constitution. But the Constitution was never intended to cover illegal activity in a foreign land where US forces are occupying a country with which it is not at war and which has a functioning government that opposes the American presence. The US reportedly has its illegal bases mostly located in the oil producing and agricultural bread basket of the country. Both the grain and oil are routinely stolen by the US and much of the oil winds up in Israel.

So, one inevitably comes to Israel, which has used the cover provided by Ukraine not only to bomb Syria frequently but also to kill Palestinians both in Gaza and on the occupied West Bank. Recently the pace has accelerated with the Israeli Army and police killing on average several Palestinians every day, very little of which is reported in the US media, a fatality rate five times higher than that which prevailed in 2021. It is clearly a deliberate policy to step up the pressure on the Palestinians and a vital part of the process is to let it happen with minimal scrutiny by the media and public, so Israel is widely publicizing the support it is giving to Ukraine to draw attention away from what it does locally.

In short, Israel is increasing efforts to make the historic Palestine Palestinian-free by rendering life so miserable that many Arabs will decide to leave. The use of selective violence and constant harassment is all part of that effort and Palestinians have found that describing Israel as an “apartheid” state does not accurately describe the intensity of the indiscriminate punishments and killings by soldiers which have become all too common.

Israel meanwhile is also doing its best to delegitimize Palestinian national identity by labeling Arab human rights groups as “terrorists.” Israeli police recently raided the offices of seven such groups, confiscated their office equipment and communications, and ordered the premises to be shut down completely. Ironically, a CIA assessment of the groups determined that they were not in any way terrorist linked. The Joe Biden administration characteristically responded to the development by indicating that it was “concerned” but did not condemn the Israeli action.

So, if you open a newspaper or turn on the television and watch or read the international news, you will be told what to think about what is going on in Ukraine. And it will be from the Ukrainian/US government point of view. If you are interested in what the US and Israel are up to in the Middle East, you will most often be out of luck as “defending democracy” in Ukraine while also demonizing Russia is providing cover for Washington and Jerusalem to get into all kinds of mischief. It is a reality derived from how the media and government work collectively to shape policies that in no way benefit the American public. Instead, powerful interest groups with plenty of cash drive the process and are the ones who gain still more power and money through it. It is the sad reality of what has happened to our “land of the free and home of the brave.”

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 6 Comments

Russian regrouping in Kharkov will speed up Battle of Donbass

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | SEPTEMBER 12, 2022

The New York Times has disclosed that the US shared vital intelligence with the Ukrainian military and took part in the preparation of the latter’s current “counteroffensive” near Kharkov. No matter the Biden Administration’s motivations in publicising its role in what western media is celebrating as a success story — presumably, with an eye on domestic politics in America — it  could be factually correct. The media leak puts the dramatic happenings in the past 3-4 days in proper perspective. 

There are two ways of looking at the surge by the Ukrainian military: one, Kiev has inflicted a heavy defeat on the Russians and forced them to retreat, or, the American intelligence finally got wind of the  unobtrusive thinning out of the Russian frontline in Kharkov that had been going on in the recent weeks as part of a larger re-deployment of military formations, and shared the intelligence with Kiev, who of course gleefully acted on it. 

The New York Times report effectively confirms the latter reading of the situation, which has been the stuff of hearsay and whispers so far. 

Indeed, there has been hardly any fighting as such in Kharkov region during this Ukrainian surge, and the Russian focus was, unsurprisingly, to pull out the residual forces in the frontline under the cover of heavy artillery fire. The Russian operation ensured that there was no significant casualty. The  new frontline that was being steadily put together in the recent weeks (or months) along the Oskol River has crystallised. 

The withdrawal from the Balakleysko-Izyum direction stemmed from the Russian military command’s appraisal that no useful purpose would be served by maintaining such a frontline. In March, when Russian forces gained control of Izyum, the assumption was that it would help mount an operation from the north toward Sloviansk city in the Kramatorsk district of the Donetsk region. But as it turned out through the past 4 months, Russians apparently gave up that idea altogether. 

Make no mistake, the battle for Donbass still remains the number one priority for the Russian special military operation. The re-deployment from the Balakleysko-Izyum direction will now significantly strengthen the offensive in Donbass instead of weakening it, as some western journalists are speculating. The confusion arises out of the ancient legend of Izium being the “gateway” to the Donbass and the Black Sea. Whereas, today, with modern communication, Russian supply lines to the Donbass can be sustained even without such a “gateway” from the north.  

Second, Izyum itself is in a heavily wooded region — some call it Sherwood Forest — to its west where the Ukrainian forces had fortified themselves and the Russian presence had come under attack even previously also. Simply put, continued occupation of Izyum would only be a drain on manpower. 

That said, the optics of the happenings in the Balakleysko-Izyum direction have triggered a wave of criticism within Russia itself about inept mishandling by the military command, and some of it was even directed at President Putin himself. The military command comes under pressure to show “results” in the Donbass campaign. Suffice to say, there might be some rethink too on the Russian strategy so far to depend on militia groups to do the heavy lifting rather than regular troops from its armed forces.

In reality, Kharkov Region has been largely a sideshow so far. The fact that there are no plans to hold any  referendum in Kharkov — unlike in Kherson and Zaporozhia in the south in early September (which now stands postponed) — speaks for itself. 

To be sure, last week’s happenings in the Balakleysko-Izyum direction will come as a big morale booster for the Ukrainian armed forces. This will have implications for the future. For one thing, Kiev will have no  inclination whatsoever for peace talks. The thundering statement by Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov on Sunday sets the threshold of belligerence: “Kyiv is ready for negotiations after the vacation [by Russia] of all territories of Ukraine — within the limits of December 1, 1991. There are no more options for ‘February 24’ for Ukraine.” 

That is to say, the plans of the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are to completely “liberate” all “occupied” territories, including Donbass and Crimea, and nothing less! Interestingly, Reznikov was reacting to a statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the effect that Moscow does not reject negotiations with Ukraine, but further delay in peace talks by Kiev will complicate the possibility of reaching an agreement. 

According to the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Danilov, Kiev is already considering options for accepting the surrender of Russia, as well as dividing it into several nice little states! Such a level of madness and war hysteria will make things extremely difficult for the Biden Administration to carry forward the incipient signs of moderation and realism that were straining to surface in the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s rhetoric during his visit to Kiev last Friday.

Blinken reacted cautiously when asked by the travelling media party about the Ukrainian “counteroffensive.” He said: “yes, we did get a comprehensive update on the counteroffensive… it’s very early but we’re seeing clear and real progress on the ground, particularly in the area around Kherson but also some interesting developments in the Donbass in the east.  But again, early days.” 

Earlier in Kiev, Blinken did not respond to President Zelensky’s bottom line during their joint media appearance that he regarded the US support to be “a guarantee of the possibility of returning our territories, our lands.” 

General Mark Milley, US chairman, Chiefs of Staff, also was noticeably circumspect about the Ukrainian counteroffensive in his remarks on Saturday in an interview with the National Public Radio. The general said it remains to be seen what is happening in the next few weeks. “It is a very, very difficult task that the Ukrainians are undertaking — combining their offence with manoeuver,” the general said.  

While the regrouping of troops in the Kharkov region will enable the Russian forces to concentrate their attention on establishing full control over the territory of the Donetsk, it is not as if the military command has turned its back on Kharkov.

The Russian Ministry of Defence on Monday stated that Russian Aerospace Forces, missile troops and artillery “continued to launch high-precision attacks” at the Ukrainian units and reserve forces in Kharkov region. The Ukrainian forces that used to be in well-fortified positions in that heavily wooded region have now stepped out into the open and are being targeted for intense air, missile and artillery strikes. 

The Russian MOD stated on Saturday that more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were killed near Balakleya and Izyum in the previous three days alone. For sure, a few thousand more troops would have suffered injuries too. Considering that a 15000-strong Ukrainian force is estimated to be involved in the entire Kharkov operation, that is a very heavy loss. Over time, Kiev may have little to celebrate about.  

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Special Military Operation, Season 2

Big Serge | September 12, 2022

September 9 – 11 will go down in history as a period of great significance in the Russo-Ukrainian war. Both belligerent parties crossed very important thresholds, which taken together suggest that the war is entering a new phase. On the 9th and 10th, Ukraine achieved its first concrete success of the war by retaking all the Russian-held territory in Kharkov Oblast west of the Oskil river, including the western bank of Kupyansk and the transit node of Izyum.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin convened an emergency meeting of his national security council, which precipitated Russia’s own escalation on the 11th, when Ukrainian infrastructure was at long last subject to attack, plunging much of the country into darkness.

It seems clear that the war is entering a new phase, and it seems highly likely that both parties will attempt to take decisive action in the near feature. For now, let’s try to parse through the developments of the past week and get a handle on where the war is heading.

The Kharkov Counteroffensive

At the risk of sounding very pedantic, Ukraine’s counteroffensive in eastern Kharkov Oblast is an excellent demonstration of the difficulties in evaluating military operations. Everyone agrees on the basic geography of what has happened: Ukraine cleared everything west of the Oskil river of Russian forces. Nobody agrees on what this means, however. I have seen all of the following interpretations posited – note, people reached all of these conclusions from the same set of data:

  • Russia has drawn Ukraine into a trap and will soon counterattack
  • Russia voluntarily withdrew from Kharkov to prioritize other fronts
  • Russia drew the Ukrainians out to hit them with artillery
  • Russia suffered a massive intelligence failure and did not see or respond to Ukraine’s offensive
  • Russia suffered a defeat in battle and was forced to retreat

Let’s do a methodical autopsy and see what we come away with.

The first thing we want to note is that the disparity of forces on this front was absolutely laughable. Ukraine assembled a strike group of at least five full brigades, and aimed at a line of contact which had no Russian regular troops at all. The Russian frontline defenses in the region were manned by allied donbas militia and national guardsmen. It seems there was a lone Battalion Tactical Group (BTG) in Izyum, but little else.

It is undeniable, even for Ukrainians celebrating the advance, that Kharkov oblast had been almost completely hollowed out of Russian troops, leaving little more than a screening force. Two important things flow from this. First, that the Ukrainian shock group was in most places advancing against virtually nonexistent resistance. Secondly, more ominously for Ukraine, the low quality units left behind for screening purposes were able to put up good resistance against the Ukrainians – the Rosgvardiya men in Balakliya held out tenaciously for several days before evacuating through a corridor.

In my previous analysis, conducted while the Ukrainian counteroffensive was just beginning to develop, I noted two important things about the shape of the battlefield.

  1. I argued that Ukraine would be unable to push across the Oskil and properly exploit their offensive.
  2. I noted that Ukraine was making rapid advances against thinly manned, hollowed out portions of the front, and that Russia had committed very little to the battle.

Both of these statements were correct. I freely admit, however, that I drew the incorrect conclusion from them. I believed the Ukrainian advance would culminate at the Oskil river, leaving them vulnerable to a Russian counterattack by the arriving reserves. It seems fairly clear now that this is incorrect, and the Russian reserves that were en-route were tasked with stabilizing the defense at the Oskil, not launching a counterattack.

This was not an operational trap by Russia, but neither was it a victory in battle for Ukraine – for the simple reason that there was not much of a battle at all. Russia had already hollowed out these positions, and withdrew the remaining screening forces very quickly. Ukraine covered a lot of ground, but were unable to destroy any Russian units, because there really weren’t any there.

It would be silly to try to talk the Ukrainian side out of their excitement right now. Credit where credit is due, they did manage to put together a good sized shock group, aim it at a weak portion of the front, and regain a good bit of ground. Considering the abject lack of successes for Ukraine in this war, they are rightfully trying to eke every last bit of morale and propaganda out of this.

I do not, however, believe that the territorial losses in Kharkov in any way change the ultimate calculus of the war. Russia hollowed out this front and surrendered ground, but they were able to maul the Ukrainian forces as they advanced with relentless artillery and airstrikes. Ukrainian channels widely report overflowing hospitals. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed 4,000 killed and 8,000 wounded for Ukraine during their advance – I believe this is high, but even if we reduce the numbers by 50% (leaving us with 6,000 total casualties, reasonable given how much ordnance Russia discharged) it is very clear that the loss ratios in this operation were stacked badly against Ukraine, as they always are.

Momentum

As I predicted in my last piece, Ukraine has so far been unable to exploit their offensive by reaching the operational depth. They have been totally unable to project forces across the Oskil River. With the advance eastward firmly culminated, they are seeking to maintain their momentum, or at least the appearance of it.

Ukraine’s successful advance in Kharkov Oblast has been augmented with a blitz of fakery and propaganda designed to simulate a total shift in strategic momentum. These include fakes related to Russian domestic politics, such as fabricated calls for Putin’s impeachment, and battlefield misinformation, like claims that the Ukrainian Army has breached the borders of the LNR or stormed Donetsk City. They have also circulated out of context videos (the most popular one shows a Russian vehicle depot in Crimea) purporting to show that the Russians abandoned hundreds of vehicles in Izyum.

The fakery is not important. Ukraine will, however, also attempt to maintain battlefield momentum by piggybacking on the Kharkov operation with additional counteroffensives. They continue to attempt to cross the Donets River in force to storm Lyman, unsuccessfully. They also continue their attacks in the Kherson direction, making little progress and taking high casualties.

The most important development, however, is the claim that a second Ukrainian shock group has been assembled in Zaparozhia. This is an area where the geography actually would allow Ukraine to achieve operational exploitation. A successful drive towards Melitopol or Mariupol would compromise the land bridge to Crimea and threaten to crumble Russia’s entire position in the south.

Unlike Kharkov, however, this is not a hollowed out portion of the front. The newly formed Russian 3rd Corps is concentrated in the south, and Russian convoys have been spotted recently moving through the Mariupol region. Ukraine may very well attempt yet another offensive operation in this direction, but given the strength of the Russian grouping here the results will be more like Kherson than Kharkov.

Sovereignty

During the opening months of the war, I argued on Twitter that massed offensives are difficult, and that Ukraine had not yet shown the organizational ability to organize an operational higher than the brigade level. All the attacking action that we saw from Ukraine early on took the form of single brigade – or more often, single battalion – commanders taking initiative.

Well, lo and behold, Ukraine managed to field at least two (Kherson, Kharkov) and perhaps three (Zaporizhia) multi-brigade shock groups, and launch coordinated operations. This was made possible because Ukraine is a pseudo-state, which is supplied, financed, and increasingly managed by NATO. Western agencies cannot resist bragging – Britain identified itself as the party responsible for planning and organizing the Kherson operation, while the USA claims credit for the more successful Kharkov attack.

It is difficult to overstate the extent to which Ukraine is sustained solely by the west. Ukrainian soldiers are trained by NATO officers, armed with NATO weapons, accompanied in the field by NATO soldiers foreign volunteers, and the Ukrainian pseudo-state is kept running by cash injections from the west. Videos from the Kharkov front abound with English speaking soldiers and foreign weapons.

The point isn’t just to point out, yet again, that Ukraine is a failed state – a corpse that is given the illusion of life by outside actors moving its limbs. The point is that Russia understands this and correctly understands itself to be in a civilizational collision with the west. To that end, we must understand that Russian escalation is underway, and think about what that means.

Escalation and Mobilization

By this point, the idea that Russia needs to mobilize has become a tired old meme, courtesy of the deranged Igor Strelkov. It is certainly true that Russia must escalate, but leaping directly to mobilization (putting the economy on war footing and calling up conscripts) would be a grave mistake. Russia has other, better ways to escalate. The recent Ukrainian advance in Kharkov is an obvious signal to raise the force deployment, and Ukrainian potshots at targets across the Russian border only add to the pressure to take the gloves off.

First, I would like to comment on why I am against mobilization. One of the most important dimensions of this war is the economic front. Europe is being driven to the brink by the energy crisis. The Wall Street Journal keyed in on what I believe to be the most apt descriptor of the crisis, warning of a “new era of deindustrialization in Europe.”

A full mobilization would be very costly for Russia’s economy, risking the edge that it currently holds in the economic confrontation with Europe. This, I believe, is the main reason that the Russian government was quick to quash rumors of mobilization today. There are other steps on the escalation ladder before going to total war footing.

There are already rumors that Russia is planning to change the formal designation of the war, from “Special Military Operation”. While that could mean a formal declaration of war, I think that is unlikely. Rather, Russia will likely give the Ukraine operation the same designation as its operations in Syria, loosening the rules of engagement and beginning to target Ukrainian assets in earnest.

We saw a foretaste of this last night, when Russia wiped out over half of Ukraine’s power generation with a few missiles. There are many more targets that they can go after – more nodes in the electrical grid, water pumping and filtration facilities, and higher level command posts. There is at least some probability that Russia begins targeting the command facilities with NATO personnel in them. Plausible deniability works both ways; because NATO is not officially in Ukraine – only “volunteers” – targeting their personnel is not an overtly aggressive act.

Russia also has many ways to boost its force deployment in Ukraine that fall short of full mobilization. They have a pool of demobilized contract soldiers that they can call up, as well as a pool of reservists that they can raise with a partial mobilization.

The Russian line is hardening. Just in the past 24 hours, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were “no prospect for negotiations” with Ukraine, and Putin said “Unfriendly forces are targeting us, and we must take initiative in order to succeed in confronting them.” Medvedev went even further just now: “A certain Zelenskyy said that he will not hold a dialogue with those who issue ultimatums. The current ‘ultimatums’ are a warm-up for kids, a preview of demands to be made in the future. He knows them: the total surrender of the Kiev regime on Russia’s terms”

If you believe the Russian government is utterly incompetent and duplicitous, feel free to view statements like this as bluster. But given the warning shot at Ukrainian power generation yesterday, my sense is that Russia is preparing to escalate to a higher level of intensity, which Ukraine cannot match with its indigenous resources. The only other player on the escalation ladder is the United States.

Dark times are ahead for Ukraine – and perhaps for Americans on the other front of this war.

The Other Southern Front

Syria and Ukraine are two fronts in the same war. This is very important to understand. In Syria, the United States has attempted to wreck Russia’s most important Middle Eastern ally and create a Trashcanistan of chaos to suck in Russian resources; in Ukraine, NATO has armed a kamikaze state to hurl at Russia’s western border. In the Russian mind, these wars are inextricably linked.

After the Kharkov counteroffensive, I strongly suspect that Russia will look for a way to strike back at the United States, without crossing red lines that could lead to a more direct confrontation. Syria is the place where this would happen. The United States maintains several illegal bases on Syrian soil, which Russia could strike using its Syrian allies much the same way that the United States is using Ukraine. Russia is in the finishing stage training a new Syrian airborne division. With Russian air cover, an attack on one of the American bases in Syria would be possible – the USA would be forced to choose between shooting down Russian planes and flirting with nuclear war, or humbly accepting the loss of an illegal base that it has worked hard to hide from its own citizens. Given the utter lack of enthusiasm among the American public for yet another war in the Middle East, it seems that the USA would simply have to swallow the loss.

Big Serge Expectations:

  1. Russian escalation of attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and command centers.
  2. Russian force deployment raised without full mobilization.
  3. Intensification of Russian efforts to recover DNR territory.
  4. Possible escalation in Syria, likely in the form of Syrian army attacks on US bases.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

US could benefit from EU recession – WaPo

Samizdat | September 12, 2022

White House officials believe the effect of a recession in the EU on the US economy would be “modest,” while some economists suggest that it would actually help America, the Washington Post has reported.

With the European Central Bank raising interest rates by 0.75 points last week amid soaring energy prices and spiking inflation, White House aides believe “the growing likelihood of a recession in Europe is unlikely to change under the current trajectory,” the paper wrote on Sunday.

However, US officials who talked to WaPo on condition of anonymity said they didn’t think that a recession in Europe would necessarily cause one in America.

One senior member of the Biden administration told the outlet that the Treasury Department and the Council of Economic Advisers had estimated that the impact on the US from such an event would likely be “modest and manageable.”

Trade with Europe accounts for less than 1% of US gross domestic product, while the country also has enough of its own natural gas to minimize the impact of a possible stoppage of Russian energy supplies to the EU, the paper pointed out.

In fact, the US economy could actually benefit from the whole situation as it would potentially cause a reduction in global demand for energy, further alleviating price pressures in the US, it added.

“If Europe goes into recession, there’s obviously less demand for a wide range of products. We’re in such a perverse situation here [that] it may actually be positive,” Dean Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told the Washington Post.

However, if Moscow goes further and stops selling its oil and gas not only to the EU, but also to other markets, in response to a proposed price cap on its energy imports, it “would threaten the US economy more,” according to the paper.

“That will push the economy into recession. Gasoline prices will go skyward, back over its record $5 a gallon almost overnight. The economy can’t digest $5 a gallon – that would be overwhelming,” warned Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Germany imports less from Russia but pays more

Samizdat | September 13, 2022

German imports from Russia saw a dramatic 45.8% year-on-year decline in July, data from the Federal Statistical Office of Germany showed on Monday.

However, in monetary terms, German purchases of Russian products surged 10.2% to €2.9 billion ($2.94 billion), data indicates.

The imbalance arose due to soaring prices of oil and gas. The value of energy imports from Russia increased by 1.6% to €1.4 billion, according to the data, despite the much lower volume of purchases compared to the same period a year ago.

At the same time, Germany’s exports to Russia saw a substantial year-over-year drop of 56.8%.

Germany, along with other EU countries, has been seeking to reduce its reliance on imports of Russian fossil fuels, and has stepped up the effort since late February, when Moscow started its military operation in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Finland’s Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) reported that more than half of the €158 billion that Russia earned from oil and gas exports over the past six months was paid by EU countries. The bloc has reportedly imported 54% of all Russian energy exports since late February, worth around €85 billion.

September 13, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | | 1 Comment